Monday, 30 June 2014
World Cup 2014: Today's Talking Point - Changing of the Guard?
The beautiful game is often referred to as the world game; it is played in and by more countries than any other sport. For all of it's global appeal, however, it has historically been dominated by teams from Europe and South America. Since the first World Cup in 1930, the winners have come from Europe ten times and South America nine times. (There were no World Cups in 1942 or 1946 due to WWII.)
Now it seems the old guard may be giving way. As in 2010, only six European teams made it through to the knock-out stages. Obviously I was disappointed (but not surprised) by England's premature exit, although one could argue they were in good company with Spain, Portugal and Italy all booking early flights home. By contrast, Central American and African nations are performing well and adding extra excitement to the tournament.
And what about the U.S.A.? No one really expects them to progress much further; even if they beat Belgium (which is not outside the realms of possibility), they will probably be facing Argentina, which may be too high a hurdle to overcome. But how exciting to see them get this far. Their TV viewing figures suggest their football team is the most-watched national side the country has ever produced. This is great news for football (America and Australia are the only two countries in the world that don't call it football) and encouraging for the good of the American public.
It is also amusing to note the vitriol of certain neo-Conservative American columnists trying their best to deride football as dull, unskillful or noncompetitive. I'm not actually sure what they are watching. I would post a link, but I don't want to give them any more publicity. Suffice to say these are people who think being called a socialist is an insult.